Washington D.C. – The Maritime Administration says the Guam Port modernization project is not the subject of concern by the Transportation Department’s Inspector General, despite a report in the Washington Times that it is.
The paper Tuesday reported that MARAD’s internal watchdog is “worried” about cost over runs at ports in Hawaii and Guam, in the wake of a huge cost over-run at a port project in Anchorage Alaska.
MARAD declined PNC’s request to provide someone to talk on the record, despite providing an official for an interview with the Washington Times.
But the agency did issue a written response to the concerns raised in the IG’s Alaska probe that Guam’s port project might be facing the same MARAD mis-management problems as the Anchorage port project.
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The IG report released this week uncovered evidence of poor planning and oversight in MARAD’s supervision of a Port of Anchorage project. That project is now 8-years late and $800-million dollars over budget.
But a MARAD spokesman says in the written statement, that the Guam Port modernization is “on time and on budget…featuring increased oversight, planning and risk mitigation.” Though Guam officials have sharply criticized the slow pace of the Guam Port project and funding for it.
The statement says MARAD has adopted OIG recommendations and “no longer conducts port development…using practices described in the report,” Including deferring project management “to local authorities.”
Investigators agreed MARAD is starting to change, but the IG report says, “until MARAD strengthens planning, oversight and contracting processes…ongoing and future port projects will continue to be at risk of cost overruns and schedule delays.”
DOT’s written statement says MARAD is working with the Port Authority of Guam “to manage a (so far) $50-million dollar Port modernization project critically important to Guam’s economic well-being and the strategic needs of the U.S.” referring to the planned relocation of U.S. Marines from Japan.
DOT says that the project “has already produced significant benefits, with new administration offices and a lighting improvement project…completed.”
But Governor Calvo complained here last year MARAD funding delays meant just one-project at a time was getting done. “At the pace MARAD has been going,” Calvo said, it would take an “eternity” to complete the Guam Port improvement.